I was getting ready to post the above photo on Instagram, citing our third born’s quirky attachment to his shoes long after the soles have worn through so much that his feet touch the ground as he walks. But the more I stared at the photo, the more his dirty toes sticking out from tattered rubber sole remnants shouted out at my equally tattered soul, then the words flowed freely, and well…this.
Jesse has scans tomorrow morning. They will be the first ones since the set he had done in October of last year following his radiation treatments. They were scheduled for this past Monday but were shifted around, as happens often with things of a medical variety. Scan days are a kind of hard that is difficult to put into words. I will be home with tender, traumatized hearts tomorrow while Jesse is having his scans under the care of a dear sister. When I asked what they needed, three of our four children asked if I could “please just stay home this time…just in case something happens”. It is not a request I can usually honor, but for tomorrow, I can be near. They all know that, if their daddy has a reaction to the contrast (to which he’s developed an allergy) needed to get the clearest images of his brain, then I’ll be headed to the hospital to stay with him until he is cleared to return home. They also know that I must do the same if the images show us he needs any kind of immediate treatment. It will never get any easier to have these conversations with them. Truthfully, it gets harder and harder to walk this path with shoes worn thin and gone from the rough terrain and constant trekking, feet filthy and bruised from running back and forth unprotected. “Umm, buy new shoes?”, you are probably mumbling as you scratch your head in confusion. Ah, that it would be so simple as new shoes. See, you get this one pair. Shoes of peace don’t come cheap, you know. And you may not know this, but you only need the sole in the beginning anyway, when you are young and learning and building up your stamina. As you run this race, the soles get stripped off and you learn your feet can take you where you need to go without any covering, the calluses from woundings forming a sole custom made just for you, built up thick with pain and persistence, soles that endure as long as you do, soles of peace gained through a life of turmoil. So you keep on running, toes to the holy ground beneath you made that way by the God-man’s dust-laden human form ravaged and dead but overcome by the Spirit so that He rose again whole and Him with only the scars left to remind us of the reality of the “what was” that made our “what is” possible. We are all just Moses looking at the unconsumed burning bush wondering why it’s ablaze and not turning to ash, mouths agape, turning aside from where we thought we were going in order to look at the “marvelous site”. God, watching us, sees us shift our gaze and calls out to us from the flames, “Ashley, Ashley!”. And we stutter out a trembling, “Here I am.” The next moment, there we are, bare feet on the ground standing before the God of everything and everyone that has ever been, an exhilerating fear running deep and wild in quivering body. Then, He speaks again. “I see you. I see your pain. I am aware of your suffering…I know it. So I have come down to deliver you from the power of sin, death, grief, cancer. And to bring you to the land of only good things, the place where nourishment and health flow free and always without relent, where hope is no longer needed, where peace is no longer a longing, where death is no longer a necessary word.” Then we are on our faces, aware of who He is, aware of who we are before Him. He tells us more of our coming deliverance. He tells us of the purpose in our pain, all just a darkness needed so Light shines in contrast. Every broken soul redeemed a testament to His sacrifice and power, every grief and sorrow displaying His tender mercy and unmerited grace.
Our feet…mine, Jesse’s, our kids’…six sets of torn up, dirty toes will step out of bed in the morning and come to rest on ground made holy by the presence of God, the Light shining down in blinding magnificence to cast every fear and wandering, faithless moment of tomorrow into the darkness where it belongs.
We so covet your prayers for peace, for hope, for joy, for every moment of tomorrow to be infused with the immeasurable, enduring presence of Him who cannot be conquered.
“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” Exodus 3:1-8